What is Tao?

Erasure from the Zhuangzi translated by Thomas Merton

out     a hand
down     a foot
a knee
like a dance     what
is Tao?

when I first began
I would see me
all in one mass

after three years I saw

but now I see
with the eye free to work
space finds its own way
I cut no joint chop no bone

a year I have used this
it has cut
its edge
keen
when this finds space
there is all the room

I feel     slow down     watch
hold back     move
and whump the part falls away
like a clod of earth

then I the blade
stand still
clean     and put it away

From A coat of ashes. First published in The Authorised Theft: Writing,
Scholarship, Collaboration Papers
, the proceedings of the 21st Conference
of the Australasian Association of Writing Programs.

her wings

The monster is tres cool, uber beautiful
in moist black leather, as large as an
elephant, with four legs, firm flesh,
a dragon’s tail and grace. I do not know

whether to be afraid. It does not seem vicious
or vile. There is no stench of stagnant drains
or carrion. It smells of haemoglobin. Cambium.
Of still air among leaves.

I am standing at its left side.
Its broad wings are raised.
Upon its thorax, behind its forelegs,
level with my eyes,

I lay my right palm, fingers
pointing at the tremendous
shoulder, feeling the insistence
of a big bass heart.

The monster’s blood is warm,
but cooler than mine. Her name
is Creativity. She holds her wings
high, tenting me while I touch.

From A coat of ashes